For more than twenty-five years, I have been very fortunate to say that much of my work has been around an integrated creative platform through poetry, storytelling, and collaborations with various art forms such as music and dance. One of my great passions has been engaging with children, young adults, and elders within local community settings, national educational institutions, visual arts and cultural organisations and enterprises, as well as mental health and well-being establishments.
I was born in Birmingham in the 1960s to Jamaican parents who came to the UK. My parents’ cultural identity greatly influenced my upbringing, which they felt was important enough to strengthen our heritage, especially living in a foreign land. Creativity, especially in the form of music and storytelling, was a major part of our identity. I was introduced to literature and poetry through the educational curriculum; however, I was never able to connect, mainly due to the uninteresting and biased delivery. Today, however, this has afforded me a passion for supporting those through creativity who feel marginalised and unheard.
My engagements have encouraged the representation of diverse and cultural voices to express themselves, reflecting their world perspectives and varied experiences. In 1999 I was introduced to the Birmingham Book Festival. This organisation evolved into Writing West Midlands, a literature development agency. For the next fifteen years, I facilitated creative writing, reading workshops and poetry performances in schools, galleries, and libraries. During that time, I had several group residences for WWM Spark Young Writers groups, designed to promote and inspire the long-term benefit of writing by working with professional writers. These ran for three years — twenty monthly sessions based at Newman University College Birmingham, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. More recently, my interdisciplinary skills include voiceover/narration for audiobooks, podcasts and film animation.
In 2000 I became a member of Birmingham’s writers and performance group, Writers without Borders, and as the name suggests, the group members hailed from all corners of the world. 2008– 2020 I was its head. My primary role included overseeing, organising, communicating and formulating the schedule of events for each year with the group and the core group. We regularly met once a month with a membership of over thirty adult writers. I successfully maintained a diverse and dynamic group with a good reputation and semblance of high-quality work recognised nationally and internationally.
In 2018 I presented and narrated my first TV documentary for BBC4 titled The First Black Brummies, for which I won a Royal Television Society award and a MVISA (Movie Video & Screen award 2019). Most recently, I became a member of the Black Arts Forum, an organisation building and expanding on existing black arts and cultural leadership expertise to nurture and support new/developing talent through the creative arts. In 2020, along with Dr Judith Bruce-Golding, I co- founded NAKUONA (‘I See You’ — Swahili). NAKUONA supports creative communities from African and Global Majority backgrounds on a local, national and international level.